Drawing on his experience as an artist, Pablo Esparza festoons the walls of his restaurant with a rotating display of work from local artists and framed prints of his own black-and-white photography. He also taps into 20 years of restaurant experience, staffing his kitchen with cooks who skillfully grill carne asada, assemble torta sandwiches, and wrap tortillas around beef, rice, and beans according to his specifications and the whims of a giant magic 8 ball. Bartenders mix custom cocktails and dispense brews from behind the full bar, and diners croon out hits during karaoke nights or dance to tunes from live DJs.
From the moment you pull up, it’s not hard to tell that Don Juan’s Romantic Mexican Food opened in 1966. A certain brand of flashy midcentury Americana lights up every inch of the stucco building, declared a Grand Prairie Significant Landmark by the city's historical commission. Hand-painted signs—one shaped like a gargantuan sombrero—advertise “luncheons” and “dinners.” The menu hasn’t changed much, either: for more than 45 years, the cooks have been making chili, hot sauce, guacamole, and many other ingredients from scratch using the same recipes the founder perfected when the restaurant first opened. Tacos, burritos, and tamales join Tex-Mex favorites such as enchiladas, chili con queso, and taco salad in a deep-fried shell. For dining on the go or on the lam, the restaurant sports a drive-thru (one of the first in town) in addition to a robin’s-egg-blue counter with matching swivel stools.
Rodriguez's fresh-baked "pan dulce" includes Mexican sweets such as cinnamon cookies, fruit-filled turnovers, gingerbread cookies, and vanilla-flavored azucarado pastries. Earning acclaim for its dinner fare as well, the restaurant's house-made tortillas are so popular they're sold in sold in dozens of grocery stores across Oregon and Idaho?perfect for shoppers looking to make their own tacos or replace an old mousepad.